Ravaging Times

October 10, 2017

“Sima Yi Claimed All Three kingdoms”, by Zhang Zhi Wei

Filed under: Ravages of Time — Tags: , — merc @ 12:53 pm

(page 400 of deluxe edition 1)

Sima is one of many double-syllable surnames in China. There are still many Simas in today’s age. However, the one to raise that surname to unprecedented heights was Sima Yi during the final days of the East Han dynasty. He held power that could make or break a dynasty- he deviced a plan to usurp Wei, then ended the Three Kingdoms period, allowing his descendents to walk a ruler’s path and establish the Jin dynasty that belonged to the Sima clan!

To trace back to the origin of the surname Sima, one must understand the meaning of “Sima”. According to the “Rites of Zhou,” the Zhou dynasty had five specialized departments: Situ (Education), Sima (War), Sikou (Justice), Sikong (Works) and Sishi (Personnel), of which Sima was in charge of the military. During the time of King Xuan of Zhou, a vassal lord of the Zhou kingdom named Chengbo Xiu Fu (Xiu Fu was his courtesy name) reached the rank of Grand Sima. His suppression of the nomadic Xu tribe was such a great achievement that King Xuan permitted him to use his rank as surname. Hence forth he was known as Sima.

[Ancestry]
Like other famous clans in history, the family tree of the Sima clan began to branch out from the end of West Zhou dynasty to the end of East Han dynasty, widely spreading across China at the time. Sima Qian, the author of “Records of the Grand Historian,” his clan took root at Xiayang, in the western Guanzhong region. Sima Yi, on the other hand, belonged to the clan in Henei. According to citeable sources, his clan’s ancestor Sima Ang was a famous officer of Zhao Kingdom during the final days of the Qin dynasty. He followed Xiang Yu in the campaign against Qin, and was granted land in the eastern region of Yin, with the capital at Zhaoge. And he was given the title “King of Yin.”

[Warfare]
Both eastern Sima Ang and Sima Yi had talents in warfare as well as sharing Grand Sima Chengbo Xiu Fu of West Zhou as their ancestor. Different from the western Sima clan’s focus on cultivation in the humanities, the eastern Sima clan focused on a career in warfare. Sima Ang’s tenure as the King of Yin only lasted fourteen months before he was eliminated by Liu Bang. But his twelfth generation grandson Sima Yi, with the help of Cao Cao’s Wei Kingdom, wiped out the empire that was established by Liu Bang.

[The Rise]
During the East Han Dynasty, the Sima clan in the eastern part of the kingdom began to rise in prominence, and a foundation was built for their future generations. Sima Yi’s great great grandfather Sima Jun (钧) served as General Who Conquers the West during the reign of Emperor An. After his rout by the Qiang tribes, he committed suicide while in prison. Even so, the Sima clan still gradually rose to the status of having a household income of two thousand dan, which paved the way for future generations to have a career in the government. His great grandfather Sima Liang served as the Administrator of Yuzhang, and grandfather Sima Jun (儁) served as the Administrator of Yingchuan, and his father Sima Fang served as Prefect of Luoyang (or Intendant of the Capital). Sima Fang once recommended Cao Cao to the position of Commandant of the North District when the latter was nominated for Filial And Incorrupt Conduct.

[Reconstruction]
In “The Ravages of Time,” Chen Mou uses the same technique as “The Romance of Three Kingdoms” has done to reconstruct Sima Yi into the anchor of Henei’s merchant alliance – one who uses business strategies to protect the interest of the Sima clan and its allies, staying unscatched in an era of chaos, as well as planning for the future expansion. Thanks to the Silk Road that was established during West Han, the trade routes through the Central Plain were flourishing during the times of East Han, with nonstop traffic of goods going to and fro. It also led to the birth of many business philosophies.

[Business Advisor]
The Sima Yi in this series has been washed clean of the ruggedness of his ancestors, instead he was immersed in the humanities due to the influence from both his grandfather and father. The depth and breadth of learning material in his youth must have included “The Annals of Lü Buwei,” which was written by a business man who went into politics. The core of that text, as advocated by Lü Buwei, is about Morality, Benefit and Integrity – of how profit seeking relates to social connection. Profit seeking must have a moral and just beginning, and seek long-term benefit if at all.
(not sure about official translation of the cited text)

[Long-term Benefit]
When Henei’s wealthy business clans were facing extortion by Dong Zhuo, Sima Yi, as the head of the merchant alliance, had to take a stand to protect the interest of the alliance. But a year before the assassination, Sima Yi had already planted the wild card Liaoyuan Huo inside the enemy’s camp. He must have foreseen the devastation that would befall the people of Henei if the warlords were to conduct mass extortion for their war chest. That was him making a moral choice. As for the rebuilding of Luoyang after Dong Zhuo abandons the city, that was him seeking the long-term benefit.

[Private Army]
Aside from the growth in the business sector, war was also becoming more frequent by the day. Ever since the Yellow Turban rebellion sparked the ambition within the hearts of provincial governors, there was no place that truly felt safe either inside the capital or beyond. That was why wealthy clans would hire private armies – a practice that began near the end of Wang Mang‘s Xin dynasty when rebellions by farmers prompted wealthy clans to arm their own guards to fight for them. Once the head of the clan passed away, the successor would inherit this private army, which in turn would serve the clan for generations until the end of the East Han dynasty. This trend was very popular at the time.
(not sure, the syntax of this part is confusing)

[Handicapped Warriors]
The Sima clan was no exception. Back when Sima Fang was still alive, they already hired a group of private guards – “the Handicapped Warriors.” Its members honed their individual disabilities into a weapon and carried out many secret missions for the clan. The “One-Eyed Leader” was a symbol for the group, since no one knew who “he” really was. But many people know that those who threaten the interest of Henei will meet an unpleasant end. The existence of the Handicapped Warriors have also been a rumor that circulates around the Yan Province…

[Dream Omen]
Business Strategies and the Handicapped Warriors are two types of capital in Sima Yi’s hands. At the beginning of “The Ravages of Time,” Sima Yi wanted to avoid the political scene but had to prioritize for the benefit of the clan- to protect everything his late father had accomplished. However, as the story progresses he and Liaoyuan Huo will be pulled by the torrents of world-changing events- pushing the Sima clan and him onto history’s stage. “The Sima clan shall claim all three kingdoms;” is that what the omen of the Phoenix Dream means?

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August 31, 2017

Replay: Battle of Red Cliff in “The Ravages of Time”

Filed under: Ravages of Time — Tags: , , , — merc @ 9:15 pm

original post by 523025473 (王振宁)

Phase 1: Jia Xu’s main strategy

A. The main encampment on the north shore and over the water: Wen Ping vs. Jiang Qin

1. Wen Ping commanded the Wall of Warships to block Jiang Qin’s fire ships.
2. Jiang Qin’s fire attack failed. His troops submerged into the river.
3. Wen Ping ordered a pursuit by small boats.

B. Side flanks of the main encampment on the north shore: Xiahou Yuan, Yue Jin, Yu Jin and Han Hao vs. Lü Meng

1. Cao Pi ordered the burning of an empty camp to lure the Sun naval forces onto shore.
2. Lü Meng’s troop landed, but his retreat route was cut off by Xiahou Yuan, and he was then surrounded Yue Jin, Yu Jin and Han Hao. Lü Meng fought to break through.

C. Haihun at the south shore: Jia Xu and Xun You vs. Lu Xun and Zhou Yu

1. Lu Xun saw that Red Cliff was on fire, so he prepared to circle around to Haihun to take it first, then attack Cao Ren from behind.
2. Jia Xu released Kan Ze’s “corpse”. Lu Xun’s fleet saw the body and realized the enemy has seen through their strategy, so they started to slow down the ships.
3. Jia Xu used catapults to bombard Lu Xun’s fleet just as Xun You’s fleet cut off Lu Xun’s retreat.
4. Lu Xun was forced to make an emergency landing and was attacked by Jia Xun’s main force laying in wait in the woods. Lu Xun’s troops were forced to start swimming.
5. Zhou Yu’s fleet came to rescue Lu Xun and had to engage Xun You’s fleet.

D. Yuzhang at the south shore: Cao Ren, Zhang Liao, and Xu Huang vs. Gan Ning and Cheng Pu

1. Cao Ren had superior numbers, but the Sun army fought back hard.
2. Cheng Pu’s troop pulled out, letting Cao Ren and Xu Huang enter the city.
3. Zhang Liao fought Gan Ning one-on-one.

E. Wulin’s rations depot at the north shore: Xu Chu and Xu Ding vs. Zhao Yun

1. Sima Yi used the real Kan Ze to trade back Hua Tuo from Liu Bei, then told Zhuge Liang that the rations depot is located at Wulin.
2. Zhao Yun infiltrated the Cao army, stole a command token, obtained the secret code for the checkpoints, then prepared to attack Wulin.
3. Xu Chu and Xu Ding laid an ambush in Wulin to take out the man who killed their father.

Phase 2: Zhou Yu’s main strategy

A. The main encampment at the north shore: secret infiltration

1. Huang Gai successfully escaped.
2. Jiang Qin’s troop reached the shore in the dark, then changed into Cao army uniforms to prepare their attack on Wulin.

B. Haihun at the south shore: burning Jia Xu

1. Zhou Yu pretended to be routed, and Xun You gave chase.
2. Zhou Yu retreated to a wider part of the stream and split up his fleet in half. Xun You divided his fleet into three units to pusue each half.
3. Zhou Yu set ablaze the hidden supply ships behind the warships, then let the tailwind and the wide stream carry the burning ships through gaps in Xun You’s blockade- targetting Jia Xu’s troops in Haihun’s shoreside woods.
4. Jia Xu’s troops were smoked out of hiding, and when Lu Xun’s troops swam back to shore to fight them, they were stuck.
5. Xun You used half of his fleet to rescue Jia Xu’s troop (the remainder ships should then be defeated by Zhou Yu), then joined Wen Ping’s troop in the retreat, until they meet up with Zhu Ling’s reinforcement.
6. Zhou Yu took full control of the battlefield on the river.

C. Yuzhang at the south shore: counter-siege

1. Han Dang, Zhu Zhi and Ling Tong’s twenty-thousand reinforcement troop counter-attacks Yuzhang. The Cao army had more men but they were running out of stamina. Plus the damaged city wall of Yuzhang made it too weak to defend with.
2. Cao Cao’s reinforcement (possibly led by Li Dian) was blocked (possibly by Cheng Pu).
3. Cao Ren had no choice but to withdraw from Yuzhang, and when he received news from Jia Xu along the way, he directed his troop to retreat to Jiangling.

D. Wulin’s rations depot and the side flanks of the main encampment at the north shore: full counter-strike

1. Xu Chu and Xu Ding were lured away by Zhao Yun. Jiang Qin’s troop then infiltrated the Wulin camp to burn the rations.
2. The news of Wulin on fire spread, and various troops (Yu Jin, Yue Jin) of the Cao army began to retreat.
3. Lü Meng’s army began to counter-attack. With the aid of easterly wind his troop set fire to the woods, forcing the Cao army to take the Huarong path.
4. Reinforcements under Sun Quan’s command landed at Red Cliff to pursue Cao Cao.

E. Huarong Path: cannon fodder Liu Bei

1. Prior to the battle, [Zhou Yu] allowed Zhuge Jin to release Zhuge Liang prior to the battle.
2. During the battle, [Zhou Yu] allowed Liu Bei to go to Red Cliff so that he and Cao Cao can wear each other down.

Phase 3: Zuo Ci’s main strategy

A. Collude with Sima Yi
He joined the Cao army through Sima Yi and was responsible for predicting the weather.

B. Use Kan Ze
He pretended to see through Kan Ze’s lies in order to win Cao Cao’s trust. But he secretly made a realistic corpse of Kan Ze so that he could release the real person.

C. Kill all the physicians in the army
Many of Cao Cao’s men were infected by the plague. Zuo Ci then killed all the army doctors during the chaotic retreat.

D. Assassinate Cao Cao

1. Cao Cao became sick from the plague but could not find a doctor. Zuo Ci then offered his service.
2. Zuo Ci used hallucinogenic incense to cause Cao Hong and the other officers to see things, while he prepared to strangle Cao Cao.

E. Four troops to attack the Xu capital
Zuo Ci assigned four disciples prior to the battle to infiltrate four troops made of Yuan Shao’s surrendered soldiers. They planned to cause trouble when they arrive at the capital to receive supplies.

Phase 4: Zhuge Liang’s main strategy

A. Wulin’s rations depot at the north shore: Liu Bei, Zhang Fei and Zhao Yun vs. Xu Chu and Xu Ding

1. Liu Bei and Zhang Fei came to Zhao Yun’s aid and fended off the Xu brothers.
2. Liu Bei’s army headed to Huarong Path to aid Guan Yu.

B. Huarong Path: Zhuge Liang, Guan Yu and Guan Ping vs. Cao Cao, Sima Yi, Cao Hong and CHeng Yu

1. [Zhuge Liang] predicted the snow storm that cycled once every eleven years, so he distributed the rain boots, invented by Liu Bei, ahead of time.
2. He predicted that the Cao army will retreat through the Huarong Path, so he led Guan Yu’s troop to occupy the peaks of Mount Huarong that overlooked the exit.
3. He predicted that Zhou Yu’s army dare not pursue Cao Cao into the Huarong Path after the rain.
4. He predicted that many of Cao Cao’s men will surrender because of the cold and the hunger.

C. Diving the world in three

1. Find an excuse to let Cao Cao escape and abandon Liu Xie.
2. While Zhou Yu wages war on Jiangling, march south to conquer the four Commanderies in the Province of Jing.
3. Invade Shu from Jing to realize the tripartite.

Phase 5: Zhou Yu’s contingency plan

A. Completely abandon the pursuit and direct their momentum toward Jiangling.

B. At the same time, send a force (Lü Meng?) to take Yiling and apply pressure on the Province of Yi.

C. Use Jiangling as the base to attack the three commanderies in the Province of Jing.

D. Use Yiling as the base to invade the Shu territory and unify the southern region, such that he and Zhuge Liang each take half of the world.

E. Defeat Zhuge Liang, who would have taken on the ill reputation of controlling the Emperor [after Cao Cao’s death], as well as the man who would be worn down by the attempt to unify the northern region.
<font color=”#999999″>(at first I thought it was a typo to say Zhuge Liang, but <a href=”https://zhuanlan.zhihu.com/p/28642254″>he clarified that he thinks Zhou Yu would expect Zhuge Liang to follow in Cao Cao’s footstep</a>)</font>

Phase 6: Guo Jia’s contingency plan

A. Zhu Ling

1. Assigned Zhu Ling to take a fleet to aid Xun You’s troop.
2. Sail to the rear of Huarong Path to save Cao Cao by surrounding Liu Bei’s main force.

B. Yang Xiu
Assigned Yang Xiu to frame Xun Yu.

C. Sima Yi
Allowed Sima Yi to take full control of army redeployment.

Phase 7: Jia Xu’s contingency plan

A. Rush to control Jiangling

1. Let part of his troops go with Xun You but ordered the rest to defend Jiangling.
2. Notify Cao Ren to regroup at Jiangling.
3. Convince Cao Ren to give up trying to save Cao Cao and go defend Yiling instead, while he himself would dig in at Jiangling.

B. Conserve his full strength and support Cao Pi

Phase 8: Sima Yi’s main strategy

A. Use Zuo Ci

1. Pretended to help Zuo Ci oppose Cao Cao and betray his teacher Kan Ze.
2. Gave Zuo Ci’s fake intel of insiders to Xun Yu, luring the latter to capture the wrong people and cause delays in operation. (speculation)
3. Gave real intel of insiders to Yang Xiu so as to use Cao Zhi’s influence to oppress Xun Yu. (speculation)
4. Killed Zuo Ci to rescue Cao Cao at the key moment, thus winning the trust of Cao Hong and the rest.

B. Trade back Hua Tuo

1. Save the real Kan Ze to trade back Hua Tuo from Liu Bei’s house-arrest.
2. Let Hua Tuo save Cao Cao after killing Zuo Ci.

C. Handshake with the Crouching Dragon

1. He knew Zhu Ling and Xun You’s fleet will use the rising water to surround Liu Bei from behind Guan Yu’s troop.
2. Pointed out the real goal behind Zhuge Liang’s tripartite, and agreed to support each other.
3. Retreated along with Zhu Ling and Xun You. Won Xiahou Dun’s trust after meeting up with him.

battle's initial deployment

battle’s initial deployment

fighting starts

fighting starts

ending stage of battle

battle deployment near the end

Addeundum: Differences with real geography

1. Red Cliff is on the south side of the river, not north
Chapter 414 stated that Cao Ren, Zhang Liao and Li Dian were on the other shore. Chapter 417 stated that Jia Xu was on the other shore. In the easterly wind, Lü Meng’s westward fleet landed from the starboard side while Lu Xun’s westward fleet looked at Red Cliff on their right. Hence both Red Cliff and Wulin must be on the north side of the Long River. But in reality, Red Cliff and Wulin faced across from each other, on the south and north side of the Long River, respectively.

2. Lu Xun couldn’t see the fire at Red Cliff when he’s at Haihun
In Chapter 414, Lu Xun saw the flames at Red Cliff as he prepared to sail past it and land at Haihun to attack Cao Ren from behind. But the distance between Haihun and Red Cliff is over two hundred kilometers, and Haihun is directly south of Sun Quan’s main camp at Chaisang. Therefore Lu Xun couldn’t land at Haihun by ships, nor could he see the fires at Red Cliff.

3. Jia Xu and Cao Ren couldn’t reach Jiangling
Jia Xu went to Jiangling right after being smoked out of Haihun by Zhou Yu. Cao Ren headed there too after his withdraw, then Jia Xu sent him to Yiling. But both Jiangling and Yiling are located north of the Long River, while Jia Xu and Cao Ren are on the south shore. Without ships to cross the river, it was impossible for them to reach Jiangling and Yiling.

4. Cao Pi and Yue Jin couldn’t reach Xiangyang
In chapter 414, Cao Pi was commanding troops at Red Cliff, then he withdrew to Xiangyang once the rain started pouring. In chapter 432, Yue Jin was in charge of defending the entrance of Huarong Path during Cao Cao’s retreat. In chapter 438, both Cao Pi and Yue Jin are in Xiangyang. In reality, a straight line between Wulin and Xiangyang would be over two hundred and seventy kilometers long, while one between Huarong and Xiangyang would be over two hundred and fifty kilometers long. It’s impossible for them to get there with the mobility of a routed Cao army at the time.

===== mini rant by the same poster =====

Who was key to the success of Zhou Yu’s plan? It’s Jiang Qin.
Prior to Zhou Yu’s landing, the only troops at the north shore belonged to Lü Meng (as bait) and Jiang Qin (to burn the rations).
Even if Lü Meng couldn’t last until Jiang Qin succeeds, as long as Wulin is set on fire, Cao Cao’s troops at the north shore would still retreat and allow Zhou Yu and Sun Quan’s troops to land.
But if Jiang Qin failed, Lü Meng’s troop would have been useless. His ships were cut off by Xiahou Yuan, so he couldn’t return to the water. His troop would be wrapped up like a dumpling by Yue Jin, Yu Jin and Han Hao, or be scattered and has to flee to Jiangxia or something. Even if Zhou Yu reclaims Haihun from Xun You and Jia Xu, and that Ling Tong and Han Dang secure Yuzhang from Cao Ren, it would have been a stalemate. The region north of the river would still be under Cao Cao’s total control, while the Sun army controls the rest, maintaining more or less the same power dynamic as prior to the battle.
And then Zhou Yu proceeded with his contingency plan to wipe out the straggling forces of Jia Xu, Cao Ren, Zhang Liao and Xu Huang at the south shore. And Cao Cao spared no effort to rescue his troops in the southeast.

Based on the plot of the comic, Jiang Qin succeeded because of three points.

One, Chen Mou hid the story design that the people of the southeast are skilled divers.

Two, Chen Mou nerfed the Cao army.

Three, he forgot about Zhang He.

The first point is kind of cheap/stingy, but it didn’t exceed the readers’ common expectation of a pleasant surprise. He foreshadowed Jiang Qin’s divers with Lu Xun’s divers and Huang Gai. So the reveal of Jiang Qin’s diving troop didn’t feel too sudden.

But point two and three feel overpowered/broken/preordained (?).
<font color=”#999999″>(I don’t understand 钦定 in this context)</font>
So Cao Cao knew Wulin’s position has been leaked, yet he still only assigned the Xu brothers to lay an ambush for Liu Bei’s troop. Xu Chu was good at melee while Xu Ding was good at surprise attacks; neither was commander material. Several of Cao Cao’s troops in the comic had unclear movements, like Cao Chun (appeared during the pre-battle meeting), Cao Hong (followed Cao Cao in the Huarong Path), and Xiahou Dun (went searching for Cao Cao in the hills). There was no explanation of their movement in the start of the battle. They didn’t appear in the siege against Lü Meng, nor anywhere else. Were they eating barbeque the whole time?

Cao Cao would use Yuan Shao’s surrendered troops as his reinforcements when he had Zhang He, Gao Lan and Zang Ba at his disposal. Other than Gao Lan, the historical record did include accounts of Zhang He and Zang Ba’s achievements after they submited to Cao Cao, who came to trust them. The historial records didn’t mention Zhang He, Gao Lan and Zang Ba at Red Cliff, but neither did it say they weren’t there. And since you’re a comic, there’s no need to make every detail historically accurate. Not to mention “The Romance of the Three Kingdoms” already put Zhang He at Red Cliff. Had the commander of the reinforcements been Zhang He, Gao Lan or Zang Ba, Xun Yu would never have suspected them and ordered the wrong people in Cao Pi’s faction to be arrested, tripping over his own foot.

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